Even though the recession is over and I'm confident about the overall economy, I'm holding back on making any major purchases. I don't want to give up my frugal ways even though I have more money to spend. According to a recent article by the Los Angeles Times, consumer confidence levels have reached a 6-year high. In fact, the consumer sentiment has recovered to pre-recession levels. I could start spending again as if the housing and stock market crashes never happed. Instead, I'm being cautious with my spending.
Ignoring the gas prices
I know that gas prices have fallen, but I'm still acting as if it costs $50 to fill up the tank. I am continuing to organize my schedule so I can hit the grocery store after work appointments. I pick up flowers from the nursery on my way to pick up my son from school. By carpooling with other friends and family and planning our outings, we save $100 a month on gasoline. We saved more money when gasoline was more expensive, but that's an extra $100 we can put toward our emergency savings.
Avoiding car and student loans
My family could use another car since we have a son who is living at home while he attends college. He can ride his bicycle to get to his community college or catch a ride with friends or family when the weather is poor. During the recession, we couldn't afford to take on another car loan. Instead of spending money on a car for our son, we use the money to pay cash for his college classes. Even though most adults are doing better now that the recession is over, young people with college loan debt have less money to spend.
Staying in our starter home
While many of our friends have moved out of their starter homes and purchased larger houses, we are ignoring the housing market recovery. We are no longer underwater on our mortgage, but we carry on with the same behaviors as if we did owe more on our home than our home was worth. We are paying down our 15-year mortgage early so we feel more financially secure.
Checking our 401(k) rarely
Another way that we stay motivated to live a frugal life is by ignoring the rise in the stock market. We check our 401(k) balances only once a year to see if we are hitting our retirement savings targets. Otherwise, we don't concern ourselves with the value of our retirement accounts. When we talk about how much money we have in savings, we don't include our retirement accounts since we won't access them for another 25 years.
Experts say consumer sentiment will be put to the test in upcoming months, but that's nothing new. I don't let the job market, stock market or housing market affect how I spend my money at the market. If I became overly confident about my net worth and the overall economy, I might go on a spending spree. I have been successful at avoiding debt and saving for the future by budgeting and being thrifty just as I during the down economy.
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